A few years back I received a message from a very good friend ‘Rich’ from over at ‘The Reptile House’ …
Now, Rich has become, I believe quite rightly an aficionado in not only PTW’s but the detailing’s and all that is popular in the plethora of trends amongst the ‘firearms related zeitgeist’.
I digress, he approached asking to get in touch with a very polite young man, Alex, who was taking his first tentative steps into the world of Mil-Builds …
Now, of course I was happy to oblige, and was more than happy to help, what was the project – Mk18 NSW Carbine, the classic SOPMOD M4A1 or maybe a Marine soaked M16A4 …
Nah, that’d be boring, this project had me palpably salivating with the possibilities – a Mk12 Mod 0 ‘SPR’ …
As we’ll discuss here in the interview, as serendipity would have it was a journey undertaken by two initially, strangers who over the course of several years researched and discussed a build which has finally seen fruition.
And as magical as it looks it has also seen the mark of a firm friendship …
Over many weeks and months we progressively researched and discussed scopes, bipod’s, barrels, rails and fore-grips amongst many other details and minutiae as all of those attachments and accessories echo the reasons and ethos behind this build and why Alex opted for the more controversial sliding stock over the classic solid …
GM75: So, it’s finally arrived – it’s finished, but let’s start at the very beginning, what was the inspiration behind opting to build a highly detailed Mk12 Mod ‘0’ SPR – and why did you seek to build such a unique Mil-Build over the more personalized civilian builds popularized of late ?
AC: That’s a bit of a long question! I fell in love with the MOD0 years ago, and I hate to admit it, but it was whilst playing Joint Operations online in 2004, think a cross between ARMA and BF2.
Anyway, I started airsofting about 8 years ago now and I always had my heart set on the MOD0, at the time the only kit that was available was the DBoys and by the time I could afford it, I realised that it didn’t perform well enough and wasn’t an accurate replica, so I waited and did my research, subsequently a couple of other kits came out, such as the Classic Army and I think a GBBR kit, however every time they had been released I was either already using RIFs that were a little more upmarket and didn’t want to sacrifice performance or there were just little things wrong.
So, eventually, after owning my first two PTWs, one straight from Tac and one second hand I decided to take the plunge and make my own. As for going the Mil-Build route over the popular civ builds, I’d love to be able to say that I’m trend setting, however, I started building this particular rifle close to three years ago now, when Mil builds were all the rage, but I’m not sure if it would have made any difference, I’ve been obsessing over this rifle for too long! Plus I’ve tried to incorporate some of the Civ build ideals into the rifle, such as the importance of function over form whilst still making this a 100% accurate replica.
GM75: Let’s talk about the stock, whilst accurate, it’s rarely seen and often an option proffered by certain units that require such a unique alteration over the obligatory Crane or Solid State Stocks ?
AC: It’s an interesting choice for sure, I went for it because I was trying to replicate the first few MOD0s that came out, specifically those built around 2005/6, there are plenty of reference photos showing the CAR stock being used and it’s such a classic look, anyone who is into the L119a1 will know how nice it is so it was the obvious choice over the crane. I also went for the RS version as I want this rifle to be able to take a beating if it needs to, and you can’t beat genuine Colt quality, the stock even has a couple of scars from genuine use!
Whilst I am a huge fan of the MK12 with the solid stock, I feel that the sliding option gives you a much more manageable rifle and if you ever felt like you wanted to take this rifle into the “modern age” this configuration makes it easy to replicate newer reference photos showing certain units who still choose to run the MOD0 but with a few modern accessories such as the CTR stock and different optics/PEQs.
GM75: The devil is in the detail, a rarely seen attention to such is often overlooked, thus making this very special indeed. So assembled by the inimitable Tackleberry and with Suzutomo’s high end receiver sets this was obviously more than just a clone – do you feel perhaps this will be perhaps overlooked and missed by the masses ?
AC: Perhaps, but I think those interested in either the MK12/High end PTWs/Milsim will appreciate it, and at the end of the day, I love it, so isn’t that what counts?
This has been built to be used, internally it is set up in DMR format as 430fps and locked to semi, whilst internally everything that could possibly take a beating is RS so it’s solid as a rock. What I was trying to achieve was a rifle that can hit a head sized target every time whilst still be able to be thrown into vehicles and around corners; a milsim player’s dream.
I think I’ve achieved that, but the parts list will speak for itself.
Plus if the ultimate purists on the AR15 forum (who would probably ban you if you told them you play airsoft) gave it their seal of approval, I think it passed its test
GM75: Such and iconic rifle, with its distinctly recognizable compensator and barrel sleeve, it’s a wonder as to why it’s was so quickly superseded by the MOD 1, a rifle that itself was short lived and only perhaps has merit on function over form ?
AC: Very true, I’ll try and not go into a tirade as to why I think the MOD 0 was superseded so quickly, but the fact that they still get picked over the MOD 1 today by people who really know what they are doing makes me lean towards the idea that it had something to do with a billing issue rather than the performance of the rifle.
As for function over form, I’m still not convinced the MOD 1 is the winner here, in my opinion there is too much rail space doing nothing at the front end where as the MK12 has a carbon fibre front making it incredibly pointable, plus no sleeve locking together a long, continuous upper.
There are a couple of things I’ve changed on this rifle from the standard configuration, first of them being that usually the undersidse rail on the handguard is short like on the side and the long rail locks into the swan sleeve, I ordered a second long rail set to put on the bottom as I noticed a genius idea in one obscure reference photo, placing the long rail underneath allows the bipod to be mounted for long range shooting but with a foregrip seated behind it for closer encounters.
GM75: Perhaps rather fitting that in the pursuit of replicating the Real Steel Rifle, you’ve emulated the thought process of Real Steel Shooters, who, quite rightly make these choices and modifications – how much of this was driven by your own personal experience running two previous PTW’s or was it driven from information gleaned from research ?
AC: A bit of both, I’ve owned a lot of DMRs in the past, it’s the only play style I’m really interested in so that made me lean towards the lighter, cleaner rifles. Plus the decision to go for a SGT upper rather than RS was also from past experience; my previous PTW had a prime lower and a RS MUR upper, and they just didn’t get along, despite Tac doing everything he could the fit between the two meant it was eating piston teeth every 1000 rounds, so SGT was the obvious choice.
However, I had never owned a MOD0 before so a lot of those ideas had to come from research, I’m sure there will be a few tweaks to be made, but those will be down to its new owner and their play style.
GM75: So, this is virtually dripping in RS parts, obviously to preserve its longevity and function through hard use – what did you option ?
Colt N CAR Stock
John Masen Butt Pad
CQC Sling Loop
Colt Milspec Buffer Tube
Colt Castle Nut
Colt Trigger Guard
Colt Mag Catch
Colt Mag Release Button
Colt Dust Cover
A.R.M.S #40 Rear Sight
A.R.M.S #38 Swan Sleeve (the real rare part)
PRI Gen III Foregrip
PRI Rail Piece
A.R.M.S #32 Bipod Mount
Tango Down Fore Grip
GM75: Staggering – some highly sought after parts right there, did you ever wonder if it would finally reach completion ?
AC: I was a little concerned a couple of times, three different brownells orders were lost in the post, but they graciously sent replacements and I luckily managed to get my PRI front set from Arc Precision before things fell apart.
However, the main piece that could have stopped the whole build was the #38 swan sleeve, this was the first part I bought for the build as I knew without it, I had nothing and it took 13 months to find, but I did, and a brand new one at that, it cost more than a kidney but it was well worth it. Plus I have to thank Lyle for sourcing a lot of the parts for me at great prices and the guys over on the Grayfox forum for pointing out the eBay item which was my CAR stock.
GM75: So, taking it back to basics, as this is essentially a light ‘DMR’ for infantry, I take this will to a degree influence your playing style – offering that maneuverability to switch between engaging long range targets and switching to short range firefights too ?
AC: Exactly, it is just how I like to play, I’ve found PTWs do have a slight accuracy advantage over your regular AEG and in DMR flavour they really are tack drivers. That plus the addition of a vertical foregrip, and sliding stock means the MOD 0 ends up far shorter than a M16 with even better accuracy.
I was in two minds about adding a canted doctor sight for the short range engagements as that is what we are starting to see a lot of in modern reference photos but due to most sight regulations and the hop unit style it wasn’t feasible. I had the chance to play a lot of airsoft in South Africa where they don’t worry about the engagement ranges and all rifles run at 450, if I was to go back there to play I’d definitely add one, but for the UK I’d stick with a pistol if things get really messy.